Utah launches first wildlife law enforcement drone team

Photo credit: Getty Images

It’s a bird, it’s a plane – nope, it’s a drone. And it’s part of Utah’s new conservation officer drone team aimed at keeping tabs on the hard-to-reach areas of the state. To date, there are five investigators located across the state who have completed the necessary Federal Aviation Administration licensing and training requirements for Unmanned Aerial Systems, according to a press release.

“Using drones will help us more effectively solve wildlife crimes, and having trained law enforcement drone pilots will also allow us to assist other law enforcement agencies with search-and-rescue efforts or any other investigations,” said Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) Captain Wade Hovinga. “Utah conservation officers are public servants, and these new tools will help us better serve the public, whether we’re solving poaching crimes or locating lost hunters.”

UDWR compares the drone specialty designation to the K-9 conservation team. UDWR will use the specialized drone officers to help document crime scenes, search for evidence and assist at locating illegally taken wildlife, help landowners investigate illegal trespassing, help with search and rescue efforts, assist biologists with wildlife surveys, document boating accidents and investigate hunting-related shooting incidents as well as wildlife-human encounters.

Essentially, having a designated drone team adds another tool to UDWR’s tool box.


Kristen A. Schmitt

Kristen A. Schmitt

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